History of the Soda Fountain

Birth of the Soda Fountain

Naturally carbonated waters, from volcanic springs, were well known throughout history and prized for their unique properties. The effervescing nature of the water was an attractive quality, and was thought to be a natural tonic. Many civilizations believed that drinking and/or bathing in these mineral waters cured diseases, and large industries often sprang up around hot springs, like those in England and Japan.

The stomach soothing nature of these effervescent waters made them a regularly prescribed treatment for dyspepsia or indigestion. The lack of side effects from a glass of soda water, unlike many other medicines of the time, helped motivate researchers to discover, and recreate, how these gas bubbles dissolved in water.

The soda fountain was an attempt to replicate mineral waters that bubbled up from the Earth. Early scientists tried to create effervescent waters with curative powers. In the early 1770's, Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman and English scientist Joseph Priestley invented equipment for saturating water with carbon dioxide. In 1774 John Mervin Nooth demonstrated an apparatus that improved upon Priestley's design. In 1807, Henry Thompson received the first British patent for a method of impregnating water with carbon dioxide. This was commonly called soda water, although it contained no soda. The Idea for that came from previous scientific studies of natural springs that contained carbonated water and with the advances in chemistry it enabled easier manipulation of carbon dioxide.

With the early successes of Bergman and Priestley's invention  it was quickly adapted by several inventors, who managed not only to improve the process of creating carbonated drinks, but also created the foundation for the first Soda Fountain machines.

The first soda fountains appeared in Europe, but they were not manufactured and marketed with much success. However Benjamin Silliman, an U.S. chemistry professor from Yale saw the potential of carbonated water, he kick-started the business of soda machine manufacture and sales of drinks across New York City and Baltimore, Maryland in the 1810's. His efforts are today recognized as crucial for making soda drinks not only popular with the U.S. population, but also a viable business venture. Organized production of soda fountains began in 1832 and ever since then many other manufacturers and improved designs started being formed across the U.S.                                       

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